Anza-Borrego Desert: Oyster Shell Wash Loop
|3.3 mile (return) - 2 Hour, 45 minutes (return trip). Moderate.
|570 - 1290 feet
|4x4/high clearance, see below.
The Oyster Shell wash and it's fork are rugged steep canyons. We planned a trip and this one worked out surprisingly well. When hiking carefully it's on the easy side moderate.
But watch out for the very steep and slippery canyon walls.
As the wash starts out sandy and easy, the sandy wash sort of stops. The actual wash runs straight on, but it's the less obvious choice at first glance, this is where we complete the loop.
Start hiking up the slick rock to the right (North/East) of the rocky and steep wash, this is easy to do and you can get into the wash itself again, above the narrow and steep part.
Try to find a boulder free route, taking the east fork heading for the main Oyster shell canyon.
Wow what a view from up here and man what is the canyon steep.
Head North along the ridge, at the saddle hike down (West) into the canyon below.
Follow the canyon downhill until you encounter a rather steep drop, at that point head back a bit and turn west up a small rocky wash, ending up at the ridge.
Follow the ridge (South) until we are once again entering the main canyon.
Head back into the main canyon, to see the part we just skipped.
In the main canyon numerous small pools, with frogs, a great drinking spot for wildlife.
How to get here:
From Ocotillo Wells take the split mountain road.
Turn right at the sign Fish Creek Camp-ground.
The road should be close to the middle of the wash.
Follow the wash road, at the Wind Caves (signed) keep right in the wash and turn right into the Fish Creek North Fork (signed).
Follow the North Fork and exit at the first wash road, the Oyster Shell Wash (may be signed/ there is normally a huge rock cairn.)
Enter the wash and park at the first fork on the right.
Parking not too far beyond the Fish Creek North Fork sign is a safe options, adds only minutes to the hike, beats getting bogged down, with no one around.
Some times you can make it to the Wind Caves in a regular car.
To make it up to the trail head a higher clearance car is essential and sometimes you wished you had a 4x4.
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